2014 witnessed some of the most “egregious abuses of religious freedom and other human rights,” the US State Department stated in a report released yesterday October 14. The annual International Religious Freedom Report of 2014 portrayed ever increasing limitations on religious freedom in many countries across the globe.
The report found that religious freedom is suppressed by elements such as terror groups which are “destroying religious diversity.” These terror groups are non-state actors. The report was compiled after analysing about 200 countries all over the world, and it was concluded that, the religious minorities were “disproportionately affected” in the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
The U.S. State Department further pointed out that “In these regions, religious intolerance and hostility, often toxically mixed with political, economic and ethnic grievances, frequently turned violent, resulting in death, injuries and displacement.”
The report further paints a dire situation “Continuation of many restrictive governmental policies affecting religious freedom”. Furthermore, religious minorities are suffering heavily because of blasphemy laws, ban on conversion and religious expression considered illegal, in addition to the “stringent or discriminatory application of registration requirements for religious organisations.”
In this regard, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom – David Saperstein, told the media that “In far too may countries people face daunting, alarming, growing challenges on account of their beliefs.”
“In countries where once proud traditions of multi-faith cooperation, positive coexistence was the norm, we have witnessed growing numbers of religious minorities being driven out of their historic homelands…This report gives a voice to all those around the world who are seeking to peacefully live their lives in accordance with their conscience or religious beliefs.”
David Saperstein exclusively damned terror group ISIS and Boko Haram, along with strongly criticizing the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan. He said the US is “deeply committed to seeing such individuals freed everywhere in the world.” He added, “We dedicate our work to their struggle and continue to fight for a world in which every individual is free to live out the core of his or her conscience.”
“While the challenges are daunting, we are deeply inspired by the work of countless religious communities, civil society organizations, and individuals around the world working alongside us to ensure that their governments live up to their international commitments to protect freedom of religious and belief,” he said.